Senior Voice America - Tampa Bay -

Tips to Avoid the Most Common Tax Scams

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Tax season is upon us, and people are rushing to pull together their important documents and other information in preparation to file their taxes by the April deadline. Due to the amount of tax preparation being moved online through DIY software, tax scams are ever-evolving. The reason they are so popular is that they are so profitable. Between October 2013 and August 2015, the IRS logged more than $20 million in losses just from one type of scam.

Learn the Facts so You Don't Get Scammed This Tax Season:

• IRS Phone Scams - If you haven't already been attacked by one of these prevalent scams, consider yourself lucky. While IRS phone scams are a year-round threat, they amp up through deadline day and beyond. The key to avoiding these scams is to know that the IRS does not make threatening phone calls, nor do they request wire transfers over the phone. If someone calls saying they are from the IRS, have the confidence to hang up the phone, and don't call back if they leave a voicemail.

• Online Tax Software Phishing Emails - A newer emerging tax season threat executed by con artists sends phishing emails with official-looking logos from mainstream online tax providers. These con artists are looking for you to part with your Social Security number and other key details or trying to infect your computer with malware. Your safest bet is to not open any emails or click on any links that you're not 100 percent sure about.

• Fake Tax Refund ID Theft Scams - Beware! Identity thieves will steal Social Security numbers to file fraudulent tax returns and get a large tax refund early in the season. Guard your Social Security number and online identity fiercely. Paperless e-filing and online tax software has made it easier for this type of scam to proliferate. Watch closely for your W2's in the mail. If they're not delivered in a timely manner, find out where they went and if they were filed falsely.

• An Invitation to High-Priced Seminars - A long-running tax-season scam involves invitations to seminars, typically costing upward of $1,000, where attendees are given bullet-proof strategies for lessening their tax bills or avoiding certain types of taxes altogether. Unfortunately, most of these strategies are either invalid or outdated, and are often completely useless when dealing with the IRS. When participants figure it out, the con artists have vanished.

• Tax Return Preparer Fraud - Unfortunately there is an unsavory bunch of people acting as tax-return preparers falsely preparing your taxes. Most tax professionals provide honest, high-quality service, but there are some dishonest preparers who perpetrate refund fraud, identity theft and other scams. Return preparers are a vital part of the U.S. tax system, with about 60 percent of taxpayers using tax professionals to prepare their returns. To find a trustworthy tax preparer, check with the Better Business Bureau, use a well-known and respected company, or get a referral from a friend or co-worker.

Justin Lavelle is the Communications Director for BeenVerified.com, whose mission is to help people discover, understand, and use public data in their everyday lives. With millions of app downloads and millions of monthly visitors, BeenVerified is a leading source of online background checks and contact information. BeenVerified allows individuals to find more information about people, phone numbers, email addresses, and property records.

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